Synchronize your Folders using SyncToy (for Windows)

Synchronize your Folders using SyncToy (for Windows)
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Hello,

If you use different computers and drives in your job or at home, it can be annoying maintaining the same data in all places in case of disaster recovery.

Today’s post is about how to create your own personal “backup” solutions. Let’s get the party started then!

My bottom line

All the lights goes to “Microsoft SyncToy“. It’s a piece of cake. It’s free, it does completely his job and it’s lightweight. What else?

 

For Windows

Creating your disaster recovery plan can be easier with the Microsoft SyncToy 2.1 utility. You might have a flash drive to bring your data from the workplace to your home and vice versa. Though sometimes you might forget to copy that files and misteriously your drive starts failing. And oh boy, now you’re in problems .. or not, if you use Microsoft Sync Toy. It’s easy!

With Microsoft’s SyncToy it allows you to easily make sure all data between drives and folders is synchronized. There are a plently of reasons you might want to synchronize folders,  wanna to sync your My Pictures folder with the one at work, or sync your music at home with music on another computer. The bottom line is, it’s free and it works. Is provided by Microsoft and was once part of the XP Power Toys but has continued to grow and improve.

Installing SyncToy

 1. When you install SyncToy it also installs Microsoft Sync Framework 2.0 Core Components, which is their sync platform that enables offline access to apps, services and devices.

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2. On our Windows 7 (32-bit) system there wasn’t an option to create a shortcut for the desktop or Quick Launch Bar, but you’ll see it in the Start Menu and create a shortcut from there if you want.

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3. When first launching SyncToy, there is an option to participate in the Customer Experience Improvement Program. This is up to the user and participation is not necessary to use it.

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4. Using SyncToy

When you begin using SyncToy, you’ll need to create a new folder pair to sync your data. You can choose a pair of folders on the same machine, external drives, or over a network.

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5. Browse to the location of each of the folders you want to keep synced. In this example we’re syncing the contents of my home office folder and work files folder to an external flash drive.

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6. In the next step choose the actions you want to take place between the two folders. Synchronize is checked by default and should be fine for most users. According to the SyncToy help file, these are the differences between each action:

  • Synchronize: Updates files both ways…keeping changes like renames, deletions and edits to either folder contents the same between the two.
  • Echo: New and updated files are copied left to right. Renames and deletes on the left are repeated on the right.
  • Contribute: New and updated files are copied left to right. Renames on the left are repeated on the right. No deletions.

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7. Now type in a name for the synced folders and click Finish.

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8. A sync job has been successfully created. You’re shown the details of the job including options which you can change if you want. The job hasn’t been run yet so you can preview it or if everything looks correct click on the Run button.

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9. If you preview the job first it shows the files being synced and from there you might want to exclude certain ones.

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10. If everything goes right you’ll get a screen telling you the sync was successful.

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11. Here is an example of a non-successful synchronization where you can go in and see what errors had occurred.

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Also notice from the main GUI you can rename a folder pair, create a new pair, or delete a pair.

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Schedule SyncToy Tasks

1. While setting up the folder pairs and syncing them up manually is a great start, what you really want to do is schedule this to run automatically. Here we’ll take a look at how to schedule it to run automatically in Vista or Windows 7. We need to use Windows Task Scheduler, so click on the Start Menu and type task scheduler into the search box.

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2. When Task Scheduler opens click on Create Basic Task under the Action pane.

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3. Next type in a name and description of the task.

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4. Select how often you want the Synchronization to occur. This is entirely up to you…but to be sure it’s done and files in both folders are ready when you need them, go for Daily.

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5. Choose the date and time for it to start and keep 1 entered if you want it to occur everyday.

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6. Next make sure Start a program is selected.

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7. Finally browse to the location of SyncToy.exe where in this example it’s in C:\Program Files\SyncToy2.1\SyncToy.exe Then in the Add arguments field enter in –R by which by itself will run all folder pairs you have set up to be synced.

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8. You will be given an overview of how the task will run and if everything looks correct click finish.

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9. There are a couple of ways you can verify the synchronization task was successful. You can go into Task Scheduler and under Task Status see the last time it was executed and if it was successful.

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10. Or you can just look in the lower left corner of the SyncToy GUI and see when it was last run.

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Conclusion

SyncToy is a free utility that makes it easier to copy and back up files from your computer to the network, external drives, or other computers. It can be installed quickly on Windows and is available in 32-bit or 64-bit versions.

Using a “folder pair” concept, SyncToy lets you define one or more folders to keep in sync. It offers three options: Synchronize, Echo, and Contribute. When you select an action in the folder-pair wizard, you get a short description of each action in the UI, so it’s easy to choose the type you need.

Here’s how they work:
Synchronize – Copies new and updated files in both directions. If you rename or delete a file in one folder, that action is replicated in the other.
Echo – Copies new and updated files and performs deletes and renames only from the left folder to the right.
Contribute – Copies new and updated files on the left to the right while ignoring deletions.

Another  great feature available since SyncToy v2 is the ability to sync multiple folders to the same destination, which lets you combine or sync files from multiple folders on one or more computers. This can come in handy when using multiple laptops synced with a single network folder. So, no more excuses from the outside sales guys that they couldn’t save their files to the network.
If you’re using multiple external USB drives, you’ll appreciate the dynamic drive assignment on folders. Since Windows assigns drive letters on a first-come, first-served basis, drive letters can get mixed up. If this happens, SyncToy automatically scans through all possible drive letters, to find the folder, and updates the folder-pair information.
SyncToy’s setup has been improved as well, and there have been a number of under-the-hood updates to fix or enhance unattended execution, metadata location issues, and error handling. You now can also sync encrypted files to unencrypted folders, a boon for road warrior laptop-to-server tasks.

While SyncToy is well-designed and tested but found out that iis not supported by Microsoft unfortunately.

Hope you find it interesting.
Thanks,
RMC
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